Massive education reform bill not likely to pass this year, lawmakers say don’t give up yet

Updated: May. 8, 2019 at 8:05 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There is just one day left in the first year of the current legislative session. That means several of the proposed bills lawmakers have been discussing over the last several weeks will either move forward or get put on hold.

Some of the bills lawmakers are considering could soon become new laws in the Palmetto State, but with the legislative session coming to an end Thursday, some proposals just won’t make the cut in time.

Sources close to the State House said certain bills have always had support on both sides of the aisle, like the Samantha Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act, and the Pro Sports Team Investment Act, which supports the Carolina Panthers moving some of the team’s operations to South Carolina. Both bills still have a some hurdles to overcome with just one day left in session, but lawmakers said these are two bills that could still garner the necessary support.

Other proposals that are not as likely to pass in time include the call for medical marijuana and the controversial heartbeat bill, which says abortions would be illegal in our state anytime a heartbeat is detected.

Even the massive education reform bill, which has been a major topic of discussion this session, doesn’t look likely to pass this time around but sources said lawmakers are strategically wanting to take more time, to get the bill just right.

“Teachers were a little angry about how the House handled the education reform bill,” SCETV Public Affairs analyst Gavin Jackson said. “There was some language in there that they felt like they weren’t included on helping shape and so, there was a lot of hearings with them later on.”

Jackson added that in hopes of avoiding the same issue, the Senate has been working to getting to get as much input as possible from teachers.

“While a lot of people wanted to see education reform really go through this year, the Senate was always kind of the mind that we want to make sure we do this right and we really go through the inner workings of this. So, that’s something that’s going to be primed for next year,” said Jackson.

Still, some said many teacher concerns will still be addressed in plans for the $9 billion state budget. Just this week, the House passed a proposal requiring that schools get permission anytime they go over the state set student-teacher ratio for classroom size.

“We did see a lot of money go in the budget for education,” Jackson said. “For example, $160 million for teacher pay raises, anywhere from 4-10% and also increasing the base student pay for teachers who are starting from $32,000 to $35,000. So, there’s money in there for teacher pay raises.”

There’s money in there for high poverty school districts, Jackson said, “to help improve their infrastructure. There’s money for mental health counselors, which teachers say they really need more in the schools, especially the schools that can’t afford them and additional money for school resource officers and school buses. So, there’s a lot of money in there for education.”

Again, Thursday will mark the end of the first year of this legislative session. Bills that don’t pass will pick back up again in January for year two of the current session.

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